Conflict over parking spots at Jean-Talon Market gets political

Jean-Talon Market merchants have been complaining about the city's plan to take away 10 parking spots to create a new public square since it was first announced, but now the city's official opposition has joined in.

Official opposition leader Lionel Perez says city should listen to merchants, customers

Merchants are concerned about the loss of parking spots at the entrance of the market, which are also used for deliveries. (CBC)

Montreal's official opposition has joined the fight to save 10 parking spots at Jean-Talon Market — spots slated to be turned into a public square as part of the city's effort to make the area more pedestrian friendly.

Lionel Perez, leader of Ensemble Montréal and city councillor for the Darlington district in Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace, spoke at the market Wednesday afternoon.

Ground has already been broken, but detailed plans were only unveiled to area residents and merchants in a public information session held Wednesday night.

Opposition leader Lionel Perez, centre, spoke out against the work being done on the Jean-Talon Market's entrance, saying that merchants weren't properly consulted. (CBC)

Perez said that's not enough consultation, especially when many who use the market have said they prioritize parking spaces for customers over pedestrian-only zones.

"We demand that the work is suspended," he said. "Going ahead with this phase, they are going to change the very nature of the market and threaten its survival."

Long-time merchant Lino Birri, co-owner of a shop that sells flowers, fruits and vegetables, said it's not a minority who feel this way — a petition he's been circulating has amassed 12,000 signatures.

The work is part of a larger project to make the area around the Jean-Talon Market more pedestrian friendly. (CBC)

"What people want when they come to the market are fresh products, local products. What do we need to survive? It's to be able to provide the products, and make it so that clients can come here and get them," said Birri.

The loss of parking spots, he added, will affect not only customers, but also merchants' deliveries.

Birri said many feel there wasn't enough proper consultation with stakeholders before putting the plan into action.

Lino Birri, who's business has been at the market for 50 years, said that the change isn't supported by a majority of merchants. (CBC)

Construction on the new public square, Place Casgrain, is part of the city's larger plan to make the area more pedestrian friendly. 

The parking spots will be relocated to short-term, 15-minute only parking spots on Casgrain Avenue.

It's not just merchants who are upset about the change, frequent market customer Carmine Marcarella told CBC his parking woes have already begun.

"A $49 ticket in five minutes of shopping," he said, referring to the parking ticket he'd received in the time it took him to pop into the market and return to his car. "Why? 'Cause there's no parking."

The market has a total of 410 parking spots.

Carmine Marcarella was slapped with a $49-parking ticket on his most recent visit to the Jean-Talon Market. (CBC)

Marcarella said he comes from Laval to buy groceries at the market, but might be forced to keep away if the tickets keep wracking up.

The borough of Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie responded by saying the project has been in the works for three years and that citizens were indeed given ample notice.

A spokesperson for the borough said there were 14 separate consultation activities held and that more information would be available to stakeholders at the information session Wednesday night.

With files from CBC's Derek Marinos

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